The future drug centre and injection room in Brussels symbolise an incoherent and failing drug policy

1 July 2021
Mathias Vanden Borre

The city of Brussels wants to open an injection room at the end of this year. In addition, the Brussels-Capital Region intends to open a major new drug centre. “This is very problematic,” Brussels MP Mathias Vanden Borre says. “There is far too little dissuasion and repression.”

According to Minister-President Rudi Vervoort (PS), the drug centre on Havenlaan will open its doors in 2025 and will complement the current drug centre on Stephensonstraat, which is run by the non-profit organisation Transit. “It is remarkable that the location has already been determined and an architectural competition has already been launched, but no consultation whatsoever with the neighbourhood has been initiated. However, the Kanaalzone is a neighbourhood in full development with the many projects and activities on the Thurn & Taxis site. The Minister-President says that consultations will be started next year, but that is, of course, far too late, because everything will have been decided. So much for ‘civic participation’”, says Mathias Vanden Borre.

Three drug centres within a radius of three kilometres

Mathias Vanden Borre also sees the lack of involvement of citizens in the city of Brussels’ plans for a drug centre, mainly an injection room, in the Lemonnier district. “By the way, the specific location is being anxiously kept secret by the city council. Together with the setting up of the regional drug centre, we will have three drug centres in a radius of three kilometres. I also wonder how the plans of the Region coincide with those of the city of Brussels,” Mathias Vanden Borre points out.

Drugs as a pleasant activity

The policy of tolerance and associated lawlessness go a step further in Brussels, Brussels MP Mathias Vanden Borre notes. “Drugs have dramatic consequences for our society, such as addiction, violence, gangs, unemployment, poverty, exploitation, etc. The left-wing majority remains blind to this and turns drugs into ‘a pleasant activity’. That sends a completely wrong signal.”

Drug centre financed with money for European summits

The financing of the future regional drug centre is also remarkable. According to Minister-President Vervoort, the total cost of the project is almost EUR 12.5 million, of which EUR 5 million is financed through the European Summits Fund. “But the European Summits Fund is not at all intended to fund a drug centre. This fund is federal support for Brussels for the security of European summits and other events related to the international and national role played by our capital. Unless Brussels wants to establish itself further as a national and international drug hub, I don’t understand the financing. At the federal level, the distribution of the EU summit fund by the Brussels Government must be thoroughly examined. I have already complained in the past that the financing of the police zones is also not done correctly,” Mathias Vanden Borre says.

Drug centre in violation of federal drug law?

Mathias Vanden Borre also wonders whether this drug centre, just like the injection room in the city of Brussels, is in accordance with the federal drug law. “If no conditions are imposed on ‘come and inject a syringe and walk back out’, I fear that the law will be violated and the aid workers will run a risk of liability. A drug centre is only possible in the context of a rehabilitation process,” Mathias Vanden Borre concludes.

All information once again exclusively in French

And last but not least, it is striking that all available information (communication, website, articles of association, annual reports, etc.) of the “Transit asbl” are only available in French. For an institution financed by the federal government, the Brussels-Capital Region and the COCOM, this is a flagrant violation of the language laws... once again.

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